Uncontested Divorce Attorney Serving Lake County & Cook County, Illinois
According to the World Population Review website, Illinois has the nation’s sixth lowest rate of divorce, with 6.2 divorces for every 1,000 people in the population, but it also has a low marriage rate, with less than 65 percent of the state’s population being married.
According to a U.S. Census Bureau survey, the top three reasons for divorces are incompatibility (43 percent), infidelity (28 percent), and money issues (22 percent). Regardless of the cause for divorce, Illinois is a no-fault divorce state. To obtain a divorce – known legally as a dissolution in Illinois -- couples need incompatible differences. They can even be new to the state – just arrived – and after a 90-day waiting period, the dissolution can be granted.
Of course, divorce is rarely a simple matter. There are issues regarding the division of property and debts, possible spousal or child support payments, and custody and parenting time rights if there are children. If the resolution of these issues is left to a judge at trial, the legal costs can skyrocket, along with dissatisfaction with the results by one or both spouses.
As a result, most divorces are decided outside of the courtroom through an agreement among the separating parties, usually achieved with the help of attorneys, counselors, mediators, and such. Reaching this agreement is part of what is known as an uncontested divorce – in other words, there is no need to go to court to contest the details of the final separation.
If you are considering divorce, have already been served papers, or have begun the process in Lake County or Cook County, Illinois, contact me at the Goldstein Law Office. I am a family law attorney with more than four decades of experience helping couples reach an agreement on the dissolution of their legal ties. I can help you negotiate an uncontested divorce agreement that will respect both spouses’ rights and prior contributions to the relationship.
My office is in Northbrook, but I proudly serve clients throughout Lake County, Cook County, Antioch, Deerfield, Highland Park, Lake Forest, North Chicago, and Waukegan, Illinois.
Uncontested Divorce vs. Simplified Divorce
Illinois is one of a few states that recognize a divorce known as a “simplified dissolution,” or simplified divorce. However, there are various eligibility requirements. Some requirements include that you have no children or prospects for any, you’ve been married eight years or less, you don’t own any real property, your assets total less than $50,000, and neither of you earn more than $30,000 a year.
An uncontested divorce covers the rest of the married population, who own real property, have children and earn more than $30,000 a year each. In an uncontested divorce, the couple must decide issues that typically define what a divorce entails, including:
The division of property and debts
Alimony, or “spousal maintenance” as it is known in Illinois
Child custody, child support, visitation rights, and medical insurance for the children
These issues generally touch on emotions and often bring up grievances that the spouses harbor toward one another, so they are not always that easy to settle. That’s also why professional help is generally the key to getting the two spouses to agree on a mutual settlement – that and the prospect of a lengthy and costly courtroom battle that may result in neither side being satisfied.
Marital Property in Illinois Divorces
When it comes to the division of assets, anything acquired during the time of marriage by either party, regardless of whose name the title is in, is considered marital property. The only exceptions are property acquired prior to marriage or through inheritance or a gift during the marriage. Debts are also considered marital property and divide among the spouses upon divorce.
Illinois is an “equitable distribution” state. Unlike in a community property state, where everything is considered owned or obligated 50/50, Illinois law considers the contributions and needs of each spouse when determining the division of property.
Child Support and Maintenance
A parenting plan must be included in any divorce agreement submitted to the court for approval. Illinois requires that the spouses agree on an allocation of decision-making concerning the children along with a parenting time schedule – responsibilities formerly known as custody and visitation.
When it comes to child support, Illinois uses an “income shares” model, which considers the income of both spouses and the time spent with the children by each parent in determining who pays what. Considerations such as medical and dental, schooling, daycare, and extracurricular activity expenses must also be factored in.
Issues involving children are generally among the most contentious and emotion-fraught of all determinations to be made in forging a divorce agreement. Courts will often require the parents to agree to mediation to help resolve these issues. An experienced family law attorney can also help the parties find common ground.
The Uncontested Divorce Filing Process
When you file for divorce in the beginning, you must go to the circuit court in your county, pay a fee and fill out the necessary form. The same is true when you wish to file for an uncontested divorce. The circuit court usually has its own uncontested divorce form that you need to complete and submit.
Once all the paperwork is in, you will have to attend a hearing, often called a “prove up” in Illinois, to obtain your final divorce decree. The judge will review the divorce agreement the two of you have submitted and unless he finds it one-sided, will generally sign off on it. Your dissolution of marriage will then be final.
Benefits of an Uncontested Divorce
Perhaps the primary benefit of an uncontested divorce is the savings in the cost of legal fees to argue the issues in a courtroom, along with the accompanying savings in emotional confrontations in front of your spouse and their attorney, who is no doubt trying to paint you in a bad light. Without the courtroom drama, an uncontested divorce is the quicker of the two options.
Another huge benefit is that an uncontested divorce will preserve a workable relationship between spouses. No one should be able to harbor a grudge that they were “cheated” or “disrespected” by the legal proceedings. Both sides have to come to a joint agreement, leaving aside emotions and grudges for the sake of moving forward.
A voluntary divorce agreement is more likely to be observed in the coming months and years than a courtroom edict, which one or both spouses may decide to challenge as their lives move forward.
Uncontested Divorce Attorney Serving Lake County & Cook County, Illinois
An uncontested divorce offers clear advantages for both spouses and puts them in charge of their future. If you’re considering a divorce or already in the process of divorcing in Lake County, Cook County, Antioch, Deerfield, Highland Park, Lake Forest, North Chicago, or Waukegan, Illinois, call me immediately at the Goldstein Law Office. Your initial consultation is free, and we can discuss the framework for achieving a divorce settlement outside the courtroom.